Features — 20 June 2014 — by Audrey Matura-Shepherd

There is this ad that runs on US television stations about stopping bullying and it features what kids should do if they witness bullying, which is basically, call an adult to intervene. However, whom does an adult call when they are bullied? Whom do they call when the extremist so-called LGBT lobby seeks to bully them? Or when the highest ranking government official, the Prime Minister, bullies them? Surely just calling an adult will not help…and in both instances, the mere conduct of the bully is sufficient to dissuade others to even stand up for the bullied person, because they know they will be next! Or fear sets in and they fear they will be next. I have been bullied by both and stood up and lost nothing and would stand up again.

Professor Bain faces his bully

So outside the University of the West Indies a few physically stood up for Prof. Bain and thousands, even millions supported him in silence and applauded his courage to have taken a stand. But that in itself was not sufficient for the good professor to be redeemed in his sterling career and so he did what I think was the right thing …. He hired a lawyer willing to fight for him and took the matter to the courts of Jamaica. That had to be his step, otherwise by this week he would have been the ex-director of CHART. So the minority group of men having sex with men, who have sought to hijack both the LGBT lobby for only their self-interest, and the AIDS programme to justify sodomy between men, thought they had won when using internal, external and foreign funding pressure against one man, who did nothing but provide his expert opinion on the issue. An opinion I maintain can be used for the benefit of both sides. Ironically, their expert evidence for UNIBAM came from Prof. Chris Beyrer, from John Hopkins university, who was never equally victimized by the government of Belize nor the churches who were the opposing parties in this matter.

Notably, Prof. Beyrer is US based, at a US university and clearly from the very country that has made it its next major contribution to the world – the guarantee of same-sex marriages and a homosexual agenda. While Professor Bain is from our so-called “Third World”, from a university that is not self-sufficient and requires external funding, thus putting us at the behest of “he who pays the piper”, it came as no surprise to me that UWI’s Chancellor was more than willing to play the tune.

The Bar Association has kept silent on this issue for many reasons, I believe, but when a correspondence was sent to find out the Bar’s position, instead of members responding, one senior member sent out a Q&A that UWI had sent out with the six most asked question and UWI’s Public Relations’ answer to these. While I will not repeat these, I wish to share a portion and the gist of my e-mail sent to my colleagues, which to date has not received one response.

E-mail of May 30, 2014

“Together with promoting individual responsibility, it is clear that environments that enable individuals to make and practice safe and healthy choices must be provided at family, community and governmental levels…there are instances in which private behaviors result in considerable public cost due to illness, with accompanying loss of productivity and social disruption and the prospect of premature death. The public cost of these private behaviors must be acknowledged and actively reckoned with…. The adverse physical and physiological consequences of STIs (including HIV) in MSM create significant and avoidable financial costs to individuals, households and governments. These important considerations must be included when considering whether to give public approval to risky behaviors such as are often practised by MSM (Men who have Sex with Men).”

This is the portion of the statement given by Prof. Bain that caused much outcry. We are all smart people; read it and decide for yourself if indeed he said keep the buggery law, and if he in anyway attacked one segment of the population CHART serves… because I don’t know why the reaction is as if only MSM or the LGBT community suffer from HIV/AIDS.

Of interest please note that the CHART mission according to the UWI press release states: “In June 2001, the CARICOM Secretariat proposed the creation of a Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Centre and two years later the CHART Network was established ‘for the purpose of contributing to systematic capacity development among institutional and community-based healthcare workers involved in prevention of HIV/AIDS and in care, treatment and support of persons living with HIV and AIDS.’” Yet UWI’s Q&A seems to have changed or confused the mandate.

In the response to Question 6 [Why now all of a sudden has this matter come to attention when his testimony was given in 2012? Has he not been working effectively as Director between that time and now?] it is of interest that the response now makes it clear that the broader mandate of CHART is the repeal of the buggery law, which other regional and international agencies dealing with HIV/AIDS are working towards. So from my vantage point I now see that CHART is not about preventing HIV/AIDS, and not too concerned with the rest of us susceptible to HIV/AIDS but it is to allow and condone behavior of MSM guilt free. [And note it does not say LGBT or gay agenda.]

In the answer of Question 5 [Was the decision made because The UWI was at risk of losing funding support?] the UWI PR goes on to explain that the “decision was made in the best interest of the CHART’s ability to reach the communities it was intended to serve.” So we know that the community CHART is to serve is the MSM community, hmmmmm interesting… it is not to serve women in the sex industry, not the women having sex with women, not the women whose MSM husbands infect them, or the children from those unions…. No – it is all about the men-having-sex-with-men!

To me it was amazing how the Q&A of UWI was so sanitized that if one could not do their own critical thinking, one would say… well, all is well and dandy. Of course UWI did not even bother to address the issue of the move being really to destroy an expert witness, and before the decision is out, as another form of intimidation this had to be effected. Surely, Prof. Bain was targeted because of the effect the extremists in the LGBT community and their non-gay “agendaists” thought such testimony could have. If Prof, Bain evidence is so wrong and the other side could refute it… a simple application under CPR part 32 would have sufficed. I called on those in our legal fraternity who were behind this move against Prof. Bain and those who condoned it after the fact, if so, to write back and justify the actions of the NGO’s in the past 8 months. As I said before, there was no answer and that deadly silence sufficed.

The other expert

At a later date, I will go through the full evidence of Prof. Beyrer, but I will just add for now two of his own reports which were placed in his evidence, and which to me in no way are in disagreement with what Prof. Bain stated. Prof Beyrer states:

“Men who have sex with men (MSM) (C. Beyrer et al., 2012) are at a significant risk for HIV infection around the world. (C. Beyrer et al., 2012) This risk has roots in the earliest chapters of the HIV epidemic; MSM were amongst the first cases of HIV infection reported in Los Angeles and New York in the 1980s (CDC, 1981a, 1981b, 1981c) and now account for a substantial proportion of HIV-infected populations across countries of all income levels and geographic regions. (C. Beyrer et al., 2012) …as laws and stigmas compromise the health needs of MSM, the HIV epidemic endures as a constant if not growing threat. While MSM are experiencing re-emergent epidemics across high-income countries such as the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and France (Sullivan et al., 2009) they bear the highest rates of HIV infection across many countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia (C. Beyrer et al., 2012)…”

Prof. Beyrer goes on to explain that in the Caribbean 25% of those infected with HIV are MSM, but the evidence totally disregards the other 75% of the population also infected. However, he was not able to show how decriminalization of sodomy amongst men has reduced or eliminated HIV in MSM. I opine this is because the reduction in HIV is not a legal issue, but rather a social issue and a choice issue.

Another bully to deal with

While it seems the Bar Association of Belize is strategic or discriminatory in what it states publicly, I believe that too often we either censor ourselves or get bullied into silence. However, as a member of the Bar Association, I want to publicly congratulate the President, Mr. Eamon Courtenay, for not being bullied into silence and for finally breaking the silence and letting the people get a better understanding of the issue of the Bar’s long-standing rejection of Justice Awich’s appointment to the Court of Appeal, long before Mr. Courtenay became president. This decision is not an Eamon Courtenay decision or vendetta; rather any attorney involved in civil litigation before Awich J. (as he then was) at the Supreme Court had his/her own ordeal to recount, but at the heart of it was the untimely delivery of judgments… and as the saying goes, “Justice delayed is justice denied”.

It was not Eamon Courtenay that began to complain about judgments not being delivered for years… it was a whole large segment of the Bar. Many, I must say, were well-known supporters of this government and Prime Minister, but in the field of law, lawyers know that justice must first prevail, not politics. Sadly, those same attorneys throw stones and hide their hand and are not stepping forward to defend their position but hide behind the executive of the Bar.

This problem of all judges not delivering timely decisions was brought to the attention of the then Chief Justice, Abdulai Conteh, and the Bar even formed a special sub-committee to address it and appeal to the good senses of the CJ. My recollection is that all other judges met their deadline to correct the problem, except Awich J. When all the attorneys who attended these meetings voted in favor of those resolutions, except once, when a senior counsel abstained, it was always unanimous because he who feels it knows it. However that senior counsel still went on to propose ways to get the CJ’s attention to address the legitimate problem. The resolutions were not personally against Awich J. but at the end, he being the one still in default, it made him stand out, and despite his record of delinquent judgments the PM recommended him to the Court of Appeal…. And the rest is history!

If the media wants to be fair they can go back and show their own reports on the matter and see that indeed Mr. Courtenay was not the President then and was not the person behind the resolutions then either. My recollection of one such meeting was that Courtenay’s approach to the proposed resolution was not one of haste and he too had offered suggestions to address the issue without embarrassing the judge or the system. I did not get the impression he was out to get the judge and thus cautioned against certain steps proposed to be taken and proposed that the judges be given time to remedy the problem being complained of before making the problem public.

Kill the messenger

Sadly, too often, we in Belize lose the message because of our biases and dislike for the messenger, and we do get personal. But I always say, whenever anyone has to get personal, it’s because they cannot attack the message so they want to kill the messenger. I have noted that this is the modus operandi of our Prime Minister. I see he does it to news reporters at press conferences and he seeks to belittle them so as not to answer the question. His favorite platform to launch a personal attack on those who oppose him, is the National Assembly, where he has called out persons by name and dragged them through the mud, just when said person will never get an opportunity to respond there and then…. Such cheap shots.

However, I support the President of the Bar’s decision to answer him and call him out and naming him for what he has become. Thus Mr. Courtenay was right on point when he said: “The Prime Minister needs to stop being personal. He needs to stop attacking people when they disagree with him. As far as I am concerned he is a Penner-loving, Castro-hugging lying Prime Minister.” And he is getting better at it.

It is undeniable that Penner admitted his role in Citizen Kim’s illegally issued passport, yet the PM said it was not criminal, and Castro was caught with the Belize Airport Authority checks in his name, and the PM said it is distasteful, but not corrupt. Need I say more? Have not these situations been enough to reveal to this nation the mindset and thought process of the highest office-holder of our beloved Belize? To make it worse, Wave Radio and its hosts are just a mirror of the same attack-media, get personal and nasty attitude that is trickling down from the very top…. Sadly some people believe and buy in to their gutter mentality and are led astray… their fanatic party loyalty blinds them… sad for Belize!

Mr. Courtenay would be well advised to sue the Prime Minister for the comments he made at the press conference, but the biggest lie he said was at the National Assembly where he enjoys immunity and privilege by our law, thus the abuse of the platform of the National Assembly. This bullying tactic just got to stop. Power to the people who do not cower at his attacks!

God bless Belize!


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